Rory Tiger in a Duel at Firestone

By Associated PressAugust 4, 2007, 4:00 pm
WGC-Bridgestone - 125wAKRON, Ohio -- Rory Sabbatini met one goal Saturday. He gets another shot at Tiger Woods.
 
Sabbatini got his mistake out of the way early at the Bridgestone Invitational, settling down after a double bogey to salvage a 2-over 72 and build a one-shot lead over Woods, a five-time winner at Firestone.
 
Woods dropped out of a share for the lead with a bogey from the trees on the 18th hole, but he still managed a 69 and left himself a good chance to win this World Golf Championship for the third straight year.
 
'I tried to hang in there and not give any shots back,' Woods said.
 
Sabbatini was at 4-under 206, the highest score for a 54-hole leader at Firestone since it became a WGC event in 1999.
 
Kenny Perry had a 71 and was the only other player under par at 1-under 209. He will be in the final threesome Sunday, presumably playing the part of Switzerland.
 
Sabbatini and Woods verbally sparred this spring starting at the Wachovia Championship, where Woods rallied from one shot behind the spunky South African to win at Quail Hollow. Five days later, Sabbatini said he thought Woods looked 'as beatable as ever.' And while he said Woods can be scary when he's on his game, he liked 'the new Tiger' better.
 
Woods responded the next day by mentioning he had three victories in 2007, as many as Sabbatini had in his career.
 
What kind of fireworks will Sunday bring?
 
'He's trying to obviously think of ways to motivate himself,' Woods said. 'A lot of guys don't really externalize it. We all say things like that inside, and he's just trying to gain any kind of edge mentally when you're out there playing. He just verbalizes them.'
 
Sabbatini didn't back down, on the golf course and when he had finished his round with a 54-hole lead for the sixth time in his career. He mentioned he was 1-1 going against Woods in the final round, the most recent coming at Quail Hollow.
 
And the other time?
 
'NCAAs, final round. I beat him by five,' Sabbatini said proudly.
 
But didn't Woods win the NCAA title that year?
 
'He did, but I beat him in the final round,' Sabbatini said with a grin. 'So if I beat him by five tomorrow, I'm loving my chances.'
 
Whether it becomes a two-man race remains to be seen.
 
Ten players were separated by five shots going into the final round, and Masters champion Zach Johnson was among those who showed how quickly it can turn on a Firestone course that might be tougher than Southern Hills next week for the PGA Championship. He dropped six shots in two holes with a quadruple bogey-double bogey stretch that sent him to a 76.
 
Of the last three groups, Woods was the only player to break par. The other five players were 21 over par.
 
With storms in the forecast Sunday, the starting times have been moved up to the morning in threesomes with hopes of finishing. Rain might be the only thing to spare players from another grueling round.
 
The best anyone could do was a 67, one of those belonging to Aaron Baddeley. That put him in a tie for fourth at 1-over 211, a group that included Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan, who each had a 71; and Andres Romero, the 26-year-old from Argentina coming off his first European Tour victory last week in Germany.
 
'It so firm right now, you look at some of these pins and you just start to laugh,' Leonard said. 'But it's supposed to rain tomorrow, soften up a little bit. And if that happens, we might see some better scores.'
 
Big numbers figure to stick around regardless. Sabbatini got his early when his shot out of a fairway bunker clipped a tree and dropped into the deep rough, leaving him little chance of reaching the green. Joe Durant got his late.
 
'If you fall asleep for just a minute or two, it can bite you,' Durant said.
 
He fell asleep for two holes at the end of an otherwise solid round, and he had teeth marks. First came a three-putt bogey on the 17th when he missed a par putt from 20 inches, then a double bogey on the 18th during a journey through the trees for a 71.
 
No one suffered quite like Johnson.
 
The Masters champion was tied for the lead at 5 under par when his tee shot on the par-4 ninth went right into deep rough. He tried to hack out to the fairway, but the grass turned his club and the ball shot across into the left rough. From there he went into a bunker, then over the green. His wedge slid under the ball during a flop shot, moving it only a few feet. Another chip didn't reach the green. Johnson had to make a 4-footer to escape with a quadruple-bogey 8.
 
Then he took double bogey on the next hole, and went from leading to five shots behind.
 
'I tried to play safe every shot,' Johnson said. 'I tried to play the percentages on every single shot I hit. And I made a 4-footer for an 8. A good 8.'
 
Of the top five on the leaderboard going into the final round, everyone made double bogey except for Woods. He was more bothered by not making birdie, especially after missing chances inside 15 feet on his first three holes. But he finally made one from 10 feet on the fourth, and we he holed an 8-foot birdie at No. 6, he was tied for the lead.
 
He swapped birdies and bogeys the rest of the way, with one unusual par on the 13th. He hit his drive so far left that it went into the 14th fairway, which led to a blind shot over the trees into a bunker. He blasted out to 5 feet and made the putt.
 
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    Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

    By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

    Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

    The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

    Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

    The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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    Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

    It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

    Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

    The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

    The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

    For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

    But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

    Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

    Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

    Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

    The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

    “There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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    In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

    “To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

    Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

    “To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.